The question of solar- or lunar calendar belongs to the area of world view and
religion - and as you all know this area of Pre-Christian Celtic society is not
very well attested. The mythic structures and images can be in some extent be
reconstructed from the sagas and legends, but of the ritual and practical side
of the religion is nearly impossible to gain any certain information (except pf
some of the druidic practises). This is why all theories of the Celtic calendar
are purely more or less scholarly guesses.
Lunar calendar is provoked often by those, who claims that celtic religion is
centered on goddess worship (the feminine aspect). Moon is considered in most
of the cultures as feminine. Some of them also claim, that the English phrase
for a two week period "a fortnight" is of celtic origins, and would be a proof
of this theory. Many of the earlier scholars of Celtic cultures seem to have
been on these lines of thought.
Solar calendar is provoked by those, who, by following the ideas of max Muller,
are searching a solar cult in celtic mythology. Irish Lugh is often
interpretated to be a solar god, the same apply to the continental wheel-god
(this is discussed in detail by Miranda Green in most of his publications). In
both cases are similar problems as with that of a lunar calendar. Solar
calendar is also suggested by many of those, who claims a close relationship
between Celtic and Indo-european mythology in general and emphasise the heroic
aspects (male aspects) of celtic culture. In New Grange (Ireland) there seem to
be some solar connections, but new Granfe was build long before Ireland became
"celtic" so I wouldn`t build much on that (same applies of course to
Stonehenge, which have other problemsa as well). The only known celtic calendar
is that of Coligny Calendar from France. It was made during the Roman
occupation of Gaul and discussions of it can be found in different celtic
journals and f.ex. in Kendricks: The Druids (which is very much updated). I
can`t here recollect any theories based on that, but if i remember right it
won`t give any clear answers to this problem.
dept of the study of Religions
Univ of. Helsinki
P.S. There is a theory (sorry, don`t remember by who) that the true samhain
should actually be celebrated around the middle of November. The freaquent
changes of calendars in early Middle-ages would have confused the true date.
Adaptation of the Roman calendar pushed the beginning of November forward and
with it the traditional samhain celebration. This theory is based on an
(erraneous) theory, that Celts would have celebrated their festivals following
the Chrisitan system of months. Still there might be something behind it as
well, if people really celebrated samhain later than nowdays. The celtophiles
in Finland celebrate samhain this year the 6.11. Which might be as good a dight
as 1.11. as well.